By, Kristen Winterton
Starting your own business is a terrifying, exhilarating experience. There are so many things to learn and do, with learning experiences coming at you from all directions. As you tackle the challenges you encounter, it is easy in the beginning to shrug these challenges off and keep moving forward; however, as it wears on, it may begin to be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is at these moments that your work ethic and passion for entrepreneurship is defined.
Many small businesses fail in the first five years not necessarily because the ideas behind the businesses are bad ideas, or that the entrepreneurs are poor business people, but because people get discouraged when they face obstacles. When you are able to see past these problems and work through them, you become stronger and better able to face the next challenges. Challenges in life are a constant; there is no easy road to travel that makes life worry-free because of the fact that the business world is an ever-changing landscape. Businesses that can adapt to the demands of the fluctuating economy will survive, where others who are complacent will fail.
This comes with a caution, however. It does not mean you should hang on to every idea that you have, or that everything will succeed if you try hard enough. It simply means that you should not give up on a sound business idea just because there are bumps in the road. For example, there is an individual in Peru who wanted to start a business, and decided to start a farm to raise cuy (cuy are guinea pigs, which are a Peruvian delicacy). It took a year for this gentleman to even begin laying the first bricks for his farm, during which time he struggled with getting permits for raising animals, securing land, working a second job, and family and health issues. It seemed like every challenge in the book was thrown at him, yet he continued working through it. Today he works with his family and maintains a successful cuy farm. The challenges are not over yet, and never will be, but he faces the obstacles head-on with a determination to succeed.
From the story of this man, we can all learn that patience is critical, and that having a good attitude and being able to see past the current challenges to the goal ahead will help us to achieve success in the long-term. Starting a business will never be easy and should never be easy, but there will come a time when running it will become easier, and you will be able to see the fruits of your labor if you keep pushing on. I share the same advice to you that my mother taught me years ago: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” You can succeed; just work patiently and diligently and somehow it will all come together.
By Kristen Winterton
While writing a business plan is commonly referred to in the entrepreneurial world, there is often little clarity in what is expected in the business plan, and what elements are usually found within the pages of a business plan. To help with this, I have compiled a general outline of a business plan, with the details of what to include. The business plan includes: an executive summary, a company description, an industry analysis, a marketing plan, and a financial plan.
A business plan begins with an executive summary. This summary includes a brief overview of who the stakeholders in the business plan are, the nature of the product or service, how the product will be sold, expected financial requirements, and growth expectations for the company. This is meant to be relatively short, and will follow the outline of the rest of the business plan. If there were only one page through which you could convey your business idea, this would be it. The rest of the business plan is an extension of the executive summary.
This is generally followed by a general company description, through which you can thoroughly describe your product or service, who you would like to sell to, your “target market”, organizational type and structure, and the general administration items of your business.
The next section will be the market research portion of the business plan, and is called the industry analysis. Throughout this section, the business idea is constantly reevaluated for viability. The section will have a SWOT analysis which details out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of this business idea.
Strengths are the established internal factors that will help the business succeed and can include such things as previous experience in the field or connections to necessary resources, among other things. Weaknesses are the internal factors that could cause a business to fail, and could include such things as financial limitations, lack of experiences or knowledge, other resource restraints.
The other two factors are external factors, meaning that they have to do with outside influences; it allows you to think beyond your current status to what could happen in the future. Opportunities are the positive movements that could be made and could include expectations of advancements in technology, decreased governmental regulations, or similar events that a company could take as an opportunity. Threats are the opposite factor, and could include increased regulations, increased competition in the industry, or consumer substitutions for your product in favor of another product, among others.
The marketing plan is developed to state how a product will be introduced to the marketplace. It can be brought to consumers in many ways from social media, to word-of-mouth, to networking, to televised or broadcasted media, or through printed banners, billboards, signs, or fliers, depending upon the unique needs of a business. The marketing plan is developed to outline who will be contacted, the medium through which to contact, how many people will be contacted, and the frequency of contacting.
The final step in the business plan is the financial plan. This section states how the business will be funded, the necessary requirements for funding, and includes preliminary, or pro forma, financials which are the anticipated results of the business. It includes income statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flow. These financials will include how many units will be sold, anticipated costs and liabilities, anticipated growth based on the availability of customers, and the analysis of the business idea from a purely financial perspective which will allow an investor to see how the business has the capacity to perform. If necessary, a section for appendices may be included at the end, which contains tables, graphs, and charts and which can be referenced in any of the previous sections.
When developed in this manner, a business plan can be coherently and completely compiled, allowing a company to see potential pitfalls and allowing them to proactively develop a viable business. Many failures can be avoided in businesses when the business plans are taken through these various steps, as it takes a multitude of concerns into account. When these mistakes are avoided, the odds of succeeding in business ventures invariably increase.
By Kristen Winterton
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of micro-finance is in finding funding. Many different avenues exist for funding, through venture capital funding, angel investors, friends and family, or by using your networks. Correct utilization of networking can be an excellent source of finding funding.
One example of utilizing a network is Effect International. The students who started Effect International are alumni of Utah State University, and are utilizing the friendships and connections made there to make a difference in the world as a whole. Over the course of the last year, the Huntsman Scholars in the School of Business at Utah State University have worked with Effect International to raise money to build a school in India.
This school will be located in the village of Kuan, Madhya Pradesh, India, and is the second school to be built by Effect International. The first school is established and is already serving 120 students, with plans to expand. It seems that there is always more need for education, and the individuals working with Effect International are trying to meet the growing needs.
The location of the school in Kuan is very strategic, as it is a central location for several communities, and will allow students from many villages to attend school. These children currently have very little opportunity for schooling, as the system is very corrupt, and teachers don’t even bother showing up to teach. Effect International works with the communities to build the school, hire teachers, and oversee the operations to ensure that children are educated properly.
In order for Effect International to have the funds to build and operate the schools, they reached out to their established network at Utah State University. One of the co-founders of Effect International is an alumnus of the Huntsman Scholars Program, so current students in the program reached out to help. They set up craft fairs, a princess party, bake sales, developed partnerships with restaurants to receive a portion of proceeds, and created small businesses to raise the money necessary to build the school.
The craft fair was an expo of several businesses, many with international ties, who set up booths in a large center, allowing community members to have a central location to see what the community had to offer. These businesses provided everything from homemade jewelry to belt buckles made from caribao (an animal native to the Philippines) to notebooks with paintings, photographs, and drawings made by novice artists from around the world.
The princess party was an event held for young girls which provided an opportunity for them to dress up as a princess and go to get their hair and nails done, story time, dancing, and encouragement for them to fulfill their dreams. The group had the girls write down their dreams on a slip of paper, and the group then developed a dream tree, as seen in the picture, with all of the dreams hung on the limbs of the trees. The community responded positively, and the event was a great success.
Many small businesses were created, such as a window-washing business, bake sales, and a partnership with local restaurants which allowed the students to advertise attendance at a restaurant in favor of the group raising money for Effect International as a portion of profits.
By reaching out to their network, thousands of dollars of funding was raised for Effect International. Likewise, think of the connections that you may have as you try to find funding. Consider what resources you may have at your disposal which can help you achieve your purpose. CREED is currently raising capital to fund micro enterprises loans in Belize. Click on one of the links to donate.
By Jayme Mendenhall
There are many factors that influence the long-term success of a business venture. If you are thinking about starting up your own business or already have a business of your own, consider the following ideas:
Passion is the number one ingredient in a successful business venture. Passion turns a business into something more for the business owner. A passionate businessman is able to reach not only his client’s pocketbooks, but also their hearts.
A solid business is built on a well-considered, strategic foundation. This foundation is found in the business plan.
The hallmark of success is found in excellent customer relationships.
Quality, reliability, integrity and service are essential values for a successful business.
Products, pricing, and procedures are regularly checked by the owner.
A flexible business is a successful business. Business owners who are able to adapt and change with the industry, technology, and the market are able to survive many market swings and fluxuations.
A good business owner also knows the value of delegation.
If you are in the process of planning your own business venture, take a few minutes to ponder how implementing these ideas at the onset of your business can maximize your bottom line and minimize hassles and headaches down the road. These ideas might seem obvious, but often times it is the obvious that get overlooked. It is easy to get caught up in the busy routine of keeping a business afloat; no one knows that more than a business owner. Use this list to periodically evaluate where you or your team is at and make the necessary course corrections. Now more than ever, America and the world need entrepreneurs who have passion, integrity, and the discipline to keep their values in check while maintaining quality products and services. Let freedom as well as the free market be safeguarded within the small businesses!
By Jayme Mendenhall
It has been said of bees that they are the most perfect of any insect in the way they live, and the most valuable on account of the work they do. There are thousands of plants that rely on the bees to perpetuate them and bring forth fruit. About 30-40% of the food we eat is dependant upon bees for their pollination. As many people know, bee populations have dramatically decreased over the last 20-30 years. Farmers often rent hives of bees from beekeepers to ensure pollination of their crops. The price of honey is increasing and the demand for raw honey is increasing as people learn of the many benefits and uses for good quality, local, raw honey.
As a micro-business idea, beekeeping is one that may work for some. To start up a hive, the cost could range from a few hundred dollars to just under a thousand- depending on how resourceful one is as well as how much equipment is desired. It is a good idea to have a mentor, someone local who could help guide a new beekeeper in this adventure. There are many books on the market for beginning beekeepers as well as a lot of material online. In some areas, there may also be a beekeepers club.
One hive can grow into two or three hives in a year, thus making it possible to easily grow the business. One hive yields about 75 pounds of honey, as well as wax and propolis- other saleable bee products. Renting out beehives is actually where the money is mostly made. One hive could yield between $10-$180 depending on the season as well as the crop that needs to be pollinated. The California almond crop alone requires more than half the commercial bee colonies in the nation.
Some excellent books for beginning beekeepers may include: The Beekeepers Handbook, Beekeeping for Fun & Profit, and The Backyard Beekeeper. Any of these books will give you an excellent description of bee anatomy, hive life, pests and other problems, beehive equipment, and beehive maintenance along with other important information. These books can be found on Amazon, at bookstores and maybe even at your local library.
Beekeeping is not for the weak at heart, however. Those with allergies or phobias need not apply. It also takes dedication and hard work. Beekeeping is usually taken up as a hobby (micro business). However, if you are considering a micro-business and have a place to keep bees, consider beekeeping. Below are some excellent links to further beekeeping resources. http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G7600 http://www.beehiverules.info/category/beekeeping http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/news/ent41.pdf http://www.dadant.com/catalog/ http://www.mannlakeltd.com/
Jayme's Garden in mid May.
By Jayme Mendenhall
Spring will soon be here and now is the time that most gardeners are planning out this year’s garden! Whether as a hobby, as a supplement to the pantry, for the love of fresh vegetables or fruit, or because of the times we are living in and seeing the need to be able to provide for your own, having a garden is a great blessing to those who are able to grow their own food.
My children and I were able to share in a half acre garden plot last year and we are excited for the opportunity to do it again this year! Our garden produced abundantly! The expression “Our blessing became a burden” could easily have been applied to our abundance. What do you do when you pick over a hundred tomatoes on Monday morning and you know there will be a hundred more waiting for you every couple of days for the next two to three months? Not to mention peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, melons and anything else that is a prolific producer.
I had heard of Tithing Garden groups that were organized with about ten to fifteen families. They would harvest once a week and coordinate with their church leaders to help feed needy families throughout their community. They also were able to donate to local shelters and food pantries. One group I knew of was able to donate several tons of food throughout their community in a single season!
I decided we would tithe on our harvest. We were not able to become part of a group, but we took of our harvest to our local bishop and he was able to distribute the produce to families in the community that he knew were in need. The Bible speaks of tithing on our increase and filling the storehouses with our tithes and offerings. During these hard economic times when so many are out of work or are trying their best to stay afloat, tithing on the abundance of our garden’s can be a way to serve, help and lift our fellow man. In our efforts to tithe, we were also able to take the Lord up on His challenge to prove Him if He would not “open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it”. Indeed, we were also able to take some of our abundance to the local women’s shelter. Friends and family also benefitted from our garden and we still had more than enough to put up for ourselves!
It is possible that the answer to our economic woes lie in the simple promise God has made with us. The promise is that if we would tithe on our increase, He will open the windows of heaven such that there will not be room enough for us to receive it!
This year, consider tithing on your garden and if it is possible, put together a tithing group in your area. It is a small thing that can make a big difference! You can never go wrong by producing fresh produce from your own garden.
Me, back row 3rd from left, with friends in Peru and our team mates.
What is a major flaw in the creation of business plans? When Kristen Winterton visited Peru during the summer of 2010 to evaluate business plans for small start-up businesses and determine feasibility of these businesses, the biggest problem she saw was the lack of time spent on basic market research when developing a business plan. A business idea may have great potential, but there is much more to the implementation of a successful business than just a great idea.
A thorough look at competitors, including indirect competitors, and the potential for growth for the company are critical to the successful implementation of a business plan. For example, Kristen and her colleagues evaluated the business plan for a small copy center which was to be located near one of the several universities in the area. In theory, this was an excellent idea, since college students spend a lot of money on copies; however, in actuality, a walk around the perimeter of one college campus yielded over fifty copy centers. Additionally, when they spoke with the owners of the copy centers, they found that there were major concerns about how saturated the market was. The copy centers had a hard time making a profit because of the steep competition they faced which forced them to cut their profit margin. Many could not even afford to hire employees, and had to work seven days a week on their own to break even, or even take a second job to make ends meet.
Had the companies looked at the market before entering, they would have known many of the possible threats to their business. An additional benefit of market research is the increased visibility that it gives in demand predictions, which aids in the development of more accurate pro forma income statements. With greater information, companies can respond more effectively and become more profitable.
Market research can be as simple as going to the location to see what products or services are already offered, doing a preliminary search on the Internet to see what competitors already exist and how they run their companies, talking with current business owners to hear about the challenges they face, or as difficult as in-depth market surveys, focus groups, and statistical analysis. With the ever-increasing and widespread availability of information there is little excuse to not do market research.
The information gathered in this research process can be gained while drafting the business plan, before the start of the company, and can drastically reduce the probability of failed business ventures and the associated costs of failure. All of these benefits ultimately translate to better understanding about the competitive environment of the businesses, and how the business can be better positioned in its market.
By Jayme Mendenhall
Does the non-refundable policy of the airlines make you hesitate when scheduling a trip? Have you ever scheduled a flight and then needed to cancel it? What if there was a company where you could connect with other people who would buy your ticket off you if you needed to cancel? -And the airlines would be ok with that! That is exactly what Christopher Boll is proposing in the small business plan he entered for CREED’s Business Plan Contest. Christopher plans to “link consumers with common travel plans by a secondary market to resell unused or unneeded airline tickets”. This is an idea whose time has definitely come! Christopher’s company, KeNeXt Market, would be the first of its kind in the business world and if he can pull this off, it will change the face of airline travel for the better!
Christopher is a graduating senior at the University of Michigan majoring in political science. He is planning on taking a job in Florida after graduation as well as attending law school and getting his MBA. He is a member of the men’s rowing team there at the U of M and he is also involved in charity work. He participates in the “Relay for Life” as well as being a part of “Well Done”- an organization who helps provide clean drinking water for communities in Africa.
CREED would like to congratulate Christopher Boll as the winner of the Business Plan Contest! We wish him the best of luck in his future contributions to the business world!
By Jayme Mendenhall
Wendell Brock and Robert Williamson D.D.S. went to Haiti last month to personally deliver the school kits for the children. Neither of them was prepared to see the intense poverty that prevails there. Many of the people seem overwhelmed by the destruction the earthquake left. Coupled with the political unrest, there is very little money or incentive to rebuild. Survival reins in most everyone’s mind, and there are as many ideas on how to survive as there are people. Open-air markets line the main streets selling anything and everything that might be of worth to another. There are tent cities complete with Port-a-Potties now where there once were beautiful parks. It is both a testament of the resiliency of the human spirit as well as a mark of the utter destitution humans can sink too when there is so little hope.
Yet beyond these present difficulties there is one bright spot of hope for Haiti: Haiti’s children. Wendell and Robert got to meet these children as they delivered over 500 school kits to two different schools. When Wendell and Robert entered their classrooms, the children politely stood up to greet them and waited for their teacher’s cue to sit back down again. The children were very grateful to have the kits as this means they can continue their education. These children were bright and happy despite their immediate hardships. These children carry with them the faith and hope that is in all children! These children are the future of Haiti!
Just prior to leaving for Haiti, Wendell and Robert received some last minute donations in the form of children’s clothing and about 65-70 dental hygiene kits. Each dental hygiene kit included a toothbrush, toothpaste and some floss. These much needed items were donated to a boy’s orphanage there in Haiti. A special thanks go out to the local communities where Wendell and Robert live for these last minute contributions.
This project was a huge undertaking! It was made possible with many hands and received with grateful hearts! CREED wishes to give a special Thank You to all who helped make this happen!
Wendell Brock - Wednesday, March 02, 2011
By Jayme Mendenhall
CREED was able to put together 360 school kits to send to Holy Cross Anglican School situated on a little island called Ambergris Caye just off the coast of Belize. There are about 400 children at the school and they come mostly from poverty stricken homes. The school kits were transported by a barge from the mainland, arriving just before Christmas.
During the school’s Christmas party, Santa came and distributed the school kits to the children. They took pictures of each child receiving their school kit from Santa. The children were excited to have the new supplies for school. Many of the children come from homes of such poverty that this was their only Christmas gift; and it was one that enabled them to continue with their schooling! The administration and teachers at Holy Cross are dedicated to educating these sweet children and helping them grow and develop. The children themselves are cute and have happy dispositions; they are eager to learn.
Two of the biggest hurdles that had to be overcome to make this delivery a success were funding and shipping. Funding was needed initially to get the school kits put together and then again to have them sent. Shipping is normally a very expensive part of the process, but CREED was able to coordinate efforts with another non-profit that helped with the shipping. While this helped the expenses greatly, it then meant working on someone else’s time table; then the challenge of getting the kits through customs etc. Each step seems to have its own particular set of obstacles to rise above. We are grateful to those who helped make this delivery such a success!
Ralph Hardy was recently in charge of delivering the school kits that went to three other schools in Belize. 45 children received school kits at the Iguana Creek School in the village of Celena; 65 children at the village school in San Marcos; and 30 children at the Cayo Deaf Institute in the Central Farm area. The students were also given a pair of flip flops to wear. Several of the teachers decided to keep back some of the notebooks for future use so they wouldn't get used up so quickly. The children were happy to receive the school kits and flip flops as these were much needed items for them. Thanks to all of you for your support of the children of Belize!
On a side note, the school kits that have been sent to Haiti are awaiting delivery. It took a long time to ship them and get them through customs due to the political unrest in that country. We are looking forward to having them delivered by March.Comments (0)
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